Dededo, Guam -- In the first 100 days following Typhoon Pongsona, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and many other federal agencies provided more than $12.1 million in disaster relief and assistance in Rota.
Pongsona struck the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on December 8, 2002. Since December 11, when President Bush declared the storm's effects on Rota a federal disaster, $12.1 million in assistance has been provided to individuals, businesses and public entities on Rota who suffered losses as a result of the typhoon.
Assistance has included
- $636,000 in initial response costs
- $1.3 million for housing and home repair
- $2.1 million to cover other uninsured disaster-related needs
- $8.7 million in SBA low-interest loans
"Thanks to the great collaboration of federal and other local and CNMI agencies, this has been one of the most effective and significant disaster recovery operations I've seen," said David Fukutomi, federal coordinating officer. "Our new assistance program for individuals and families has proven to be fast and responsive to the needs of the disaster victims on Rota."
Governor Babauta praised all the federal agencies involved in the recovery. "This has been one of the fastest and most effective responses to a disaster I have ever seen in the Commonwealth," Babauta said. "The people of Rota, the Mayor's Office and the entire Commonwealth offer our profound gratitude to the federal agencies for their help in our time of need."
RECOVERY OPERATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
Even as agencies were responding with emergency assistance, FEMA was launching its disaster assistance programs for Rota residents and businesses in close coordination with the Commonwealth. In the first 100 days, FEMA and its partners in recovery provided the following aid in Rota:
- Registered 749 individuals through FEMA's 1-800 teleregistration number.
- Established a multilingual Helpline in Guam to help applicants check on the status of their applications. Operators fluent in Chamorro, Chuukese, Tagalog, Spanish, and Cantonese were available to help translate for applicants.
- Handled another 980 calls at the national FEMA Helpline.
- Set up a Disaster Recovery Center at the Northern Mariana College Public Library Complex that provided information to more than 1,300 disaster victims who visited the Center.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved 141 low-interest loans for $8.7 million to individuals and businesses.
- Funding for Public Assistance is being made available to repair buildings and protective measures and to strengthen utilities.
- In concert with other programs, FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program estimates that $1.4 million will go to CNMI to spend on typhoon-resistant projects. This initial three-month estimate is based on the best available data and may change as disaster assistance programs proceed.
RESPONSE ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHTS
In the days and weeks immediately following the typhoon, FEMA assigned various federal agencies to respond to the devastation on Rota. Within a week of the storm FEMA had approximately 100 personnel assigned to the disaster. The $636,000 in response costs included the following activities:
Military and commercial flights airlifted personnel and 8,000 pounds of emergency supplies including:
- 100 tarps and 153 tents ...